Traditionally in an office working environment, team communication was mostly unprompted and spontaneous. Teams communicated face-to-face in a conference room. Ideas were exchanged on the spot; opinions were discussed and feedback was instantaneous too. It was much easier for leaders to work with a team. Employees worked in open-spaced offices. A simple lunch or coffee break could help build solid work friendships.
With the surge of remote working during the pandemic, one-on-one team collaboration has become quite tedious. Communicating and collaborating with a distributed team is a hassle. Emails and phone calls were just not enough! There was a great need for a digital transformation. Companies needed to find new ways to stay organized and cohesive while keeping the business afloat. However, improving employee experience in a heavily digital workspace is new territory to many.
Modern online collaboration tools have made team communication and collaboration nearly effortless.
Online collaboration tools: How do companies use them?
The use of online collaboration tools has seen a rapid rise over the past couple of years. Companies use several online collaboration tools to keep the workforce engaged and connected.
Some of the common ways how high-performing teams utilize collaboration tools include:
• To foster remote and hybrid team communication
• To enable quick information sharing
• To have a secure, organized and accessible cloud storage system
• To automate repetitive tasks to reduce employee workload
• To enable project management and receive status updates
• To facilitate interactive virtual team-building activities
Four reasons why online collaboration tools are important in the modern workplace
Online collaboration tools are necessary for the present-day workplace and here is why!
1. It fosters effective team collaboration regardless of location and time constraints
Seamless communication is a major challenge in a workplace with remote or hybrid teams. Remote employees are at constant risk of being left out of important meetings or discussions. Modern online collaboration tools are built to encourage proper remote employee integration.
Several online collaboration software have helped in making meetings inclusive for remote employees. Popular tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom are rolling out new features to help businesses improve their employee experience.
Most collaboration software provide synchronous and asynchronous communication features. Some of these features include instant chat, video and audio calling, emojis, voting polls and other interactive features. These features help hybrid teams to collaborate in creative and innovative ways.
Asynchronous communication features like chats and brainstorming tools also benefit remote employees working in different time zones. It creates a space of equal opportunity where every employee’s perspective is heard and considered.
2. It enables progress tracking with complete transparency
While working with a remote team, it can be difficult to keep track of the progress of a project. Knowing how much of the work is done and checking the status of a project is also quite confusing. Managers need to set clear goals and responsibilities to avoid conflict and lag.
Online collaboration tools like Asana and Jira assist managers in tracking the progress at each stage of the project’s completion. This helps in improving team efficiency and helps leaders to sort out any issues that are causing delays.
At the same time, employees tend to be motivated to complete a task when they know the entire timeline of the project. It creates a sense of accountability. These tools are especially beneficial for employees working on multiple projects at the same time. With an online collaboration tool, the status of each project can be updated and referenced at any time. In this way, it helps the team to work in a more transparent, organized and coordinated manner.
3. It aids in the documentation and recording of the previous discussions
Another advantage of using an online collaboration tool is that all communication can be recorded for future reference. This is specifically useful in a team where employees work from different locations and time zones. Employees working in the team can keep themselves updated on the latest or past developments in the project at any given point in time.
Reviewing documentation of previous communications regarding a project is also quite convenient for new employees. New hires can quickly blend into the team and take over an ongoing assignment from a previous employee without much of a learning curve.
Online collaboration tools like Clariti also help in the context-based organization of tasks, emails, calls, chats, and online documents in a topic-based Digital Workspace. In this way, one can get an overview of all interactions and information related to the project.
Cloud storage technologies like Dropbox and Google Drive are also quite vital teamwork tools. It enables sharing, storing and retrieving of information in a more accessible manner. Cloud-based tools also allow employees to collaboratively work together on a single file. It enables real-time team collaboration. It also allows users to restrict or grant access to selected users.
4. It helps in improving the productivity of both employees and managers
A Harvard Business Review in 2020 revealed that communication tools, remote work tools, and collaboration tools are cited to be the most essential prerequisites for employee efficiency in the new future of work. Today, a team without online collaboration tools is bound to lose valuable time, money and even employees.
A key benefit of using online collaboration tools is automation. They can automate several tasks and workflows. Some of the automated tasks include email organizers, meeting schedulers, calendar reminders and many more. These features aim to save time by automating repetitive tasks. Employees can share files, documents and information quickly with any of their team members in a short span of time. Meetings can be called within short notice and from any location with strong network connectivity.
Online collaboration tools are also quite handy for managers too. They provide a range of features that help in reducing managerial workload. Managers use online collaboration tools to monitor the progress of their teams. It also helps them to communicate with a disparate workforce with just a call or a message. Most of all, online collaboration tools help them to organize their schedule. It reminds them of the upcoming engagements which they may forget amidst the hustle.
Proactive leadership is the need of the hour. Online collaboration tools are a reliable helping hand for team managers navigating through unfamiliar terrains. It assists managers in handling a hybrid team collaboration with ease. In this way, managers get to be more involved with the team and become more productive leaders.
The right tools bring the best collaboration experiences
Collaboration tools are essential in today’s workplace, where teams mix remote and onsite employees. There is a myriad of collaboration tools in the market. Organizations must choose the right set of online collaboration tools that work for them. Choosing the right tools needs managers to understand the nature of work and the type of employees in the team.
An organization must ensure that the workforce is digitally dexterous. Digital dexterity is the ability of employees to be agile and adapt to technological changes. Provide ample digital training to the employees before implementing any new technology in the workplace. This will help employees to use the tools in more productive and creative ways.